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I will be hiring a car in Hungary, then cross the border to Serbia. Officially you don't need an international driving licence because Serbia is supposed to accept Dutch driving licences.

However, we heard that sometimes the police at the border do make a fuss and you end up paying for some rules they make up.

How often does this happen, how corrupt are officials there even now?

Update: I'm back, and it turned out not buying one was the right choice. At the border crossing they only checked passports, and going from Serbia to Hungary they checked the trunk (against human trafficking, all luggage could stay closed).

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    An International Driving Permit (international rijbewijs) is not expensive, why not visit the ANWB shop and walk out with one?
    – Willeke
    Jul 2, 2017 at 11:11
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    @Willeke Because it's not needed. EU licences use a common Format and the Serbs ought to be well familiar with it owing to ist EU neighbours. And like I said, chances that you'll be asked for a licence at the border are fairly slim
    – Crazydre
    Jul 2, 2017 at 11:13
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    @Crazydre the context of the question is possible corruption leading to a demand for a bribe. In that context "because it's not needed" isn't a particularly compelling argument.
    – phoog
    Jul 2, 2017 at 12:24
  • During many crossings in 2017, nobody ever cared about the car. Passport and reason for trip is all that matters.
    – Aganju
    Jul 2, 2017 at 12:27
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    Indeed, in that context of the question "how likely..." it's even harder to argue that the permit is "not needed" unless you can show that the probability of being asked for a bribe is unaffected by possession of a permit, or at least that the magnitude of the impact on the probability is too small to outweigh the cost of obtaining the permit. I've never been to Serbia, but I have driven into and out of three other former Yugoslav republics and nobody ever checked my driver's license, just the documents for the car.
    – phoog
    Jul 3, 2017 at 14:52

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Slight correction:

However, we heard that sometimes the police at the border used to make a fuss and you end up paying for some rules they make up.

Nowadays, the Serbs are really the most lax and nonchalant border officers I've ever dealt with. Chances are they won't even ask for car-related papers for a Hungarian-plated car, but simply check your passport or identiteitskaart and send you on your way.

If you use a passport, your main concern should be getting an entry stamp, which they're often too lazy to do. An exit stamp isn't needed, however.

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  • I've had issues with Croatian immigration due to a missing Serbian exit stamp, so I would not be so sure about the correctness of your last paragraph. The missing exit stamp was allegedly proof that I had left Serbia and entered Croatia illegaly without using an official border crossing. Jul 2, 2017 at 12:35
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I researched the official law the other day, and Serbia has the weirdest stamping policy I've ever heard of: Serbian passports are to be stamped on exit but not entry, and foreign passports on entry but not exit
    – Crazydre
    Jul 2, 2017 at 12:47
  • Didn't get an entry stamp when crossing the border. Did get one while getting my visa.
    – user63369
    Aug 9, 2017 at 10:25
  • @Geliormth What visa? And if you didn't get an entry stamp, I can only hope you won't be stopped and scrutinised by the police in the country or on exit
    – Crazydre
    Aug 10, 2017 at 6:56
  • @Crazydre, stayed in Serbia for 2 weeks, doing volunteering work. So we got a visa, and a stamp in our passports while getting the visa. Leaving the country was no problem ;)
    – user63369
    Aug 10, 2017 at 7:41

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